Townsville-based freight specialist, Mystgold, has, as it rises to the current challenges facing supermarket delivery services, added additional staff and taken to running its fleet of trucks day and night.
With a dozen Freightliner Coronado 114s transporting milk and bread and goods on a Woolworths contract to remote places like Mt Isa and Mossman and other wide ranging destinations across North Queensland, Mystgold, according to owner Chris McMurray, is seeing unprecedented demand as stock shipments have surged during the unique market induced by the current coronavirus pandemic.
“The trucks just don’t stop,” McMurray said.
“We have been doing a lot of hot-seating to meet the demand. The trucks are working during the day with one driver and then all night with another.”
After the COVID-19 shutdown hurt many parts of the local economy including a noticeable decline in local courier services, McMurray has been able to offer some of these drivers work in his fleet of 38 commercial vehicles.
“I’ve known guys who have done courier work around town for a very long time and all of a sudden, they had no work at all with all of the shutdowns. They have been hit hard,” he said.
“It has been great to be able to give work to some of those guys.”
The Coronados, despite the extra work, have not missed a beat according to McMurray.
“I haven’t been able to fault them at all, they have been good for my business,” he said.
The arrival of the Freightliner Cascadia has been cause for excitement among the Mystgold team which will take delivery of a demo vehicle in the coming weeks.
“We can’t wait to get into that truck to try it for ourselves,” said McMurray. “The drivers are pretty excited about that.”
McMurray said his team of drivers, many of whom have been long time servants at the company, have noticed the general public show greater consideration for trucks on the road.
He speculates that temporary empty shelves at supermarkets might have helped people realise the vital role trucks play in the supply chain.
“Our drivers have noticed a big difference out on the road. Car drivers are being much more courteous, moving over to let trucks through, or not sitting in front holding them up,” he said.
“It seems that they are aware that our drivers are out there driving all night to make sure they have milk and bread for breakfast when they wake up. The public really seem to be noticing trucks and the role that they play.”
The company, which employees 72 staff, was named the 2018 Woolworths Carrier of the Year, and is now operating day and night to keep supermarket shelves full.
Despite anticipating an eventual decline in consumer demand, McMurray said it hasn't over the last six weeks and there was little chance things would change anytime soon.
“The demand has been unbelievable. I have never seen anything like it,” he said.
"We are still seeing big numbers even now. It has been a huge challenge but we have gotten it all done.”